Yesterday morning I gave a two weeks notice at work. I don’t have another job lined up. I am not even going to look until end of August. I didn’t have to resign – in a way.
I don’t have a good story to tell or any particularly noble aspirations. I’m just taking a break.
While this sounds exciting and luxurious, it’s also, as I’ve said before, scary and unsettling.
In the following ways.
I will not have much of an income for several months. While living in San Francisco. In theory, I can pull this off, but my lifestyle and habits for the past several years have been influenced by generous income. Can I sustain the discipline?
I haven’t figured out health insurance yet, and health care in the US can get expensive fast. I had most health check ups done in the past year; all is well. I’ve had nightmares recently about a health crisis and having to undergo expensive treatment.
What if nobody wants me when I’m ready to go back to work, and this sabbatical extends way beyond what I planned for, way beyond what I can afford?
Work is a large part of my identity. While there are aspects of my job that I have no patience for, it’s generally fine and honorable enough. I love doing what I’m good at, which thankfully is often available. I spend a lot of time at work. What will I be if not that?
Related to that, I feel ashamed and undeserving to be idle. It is such a privilege to be able to do that: many people can’t; very few are fortunate to have work that’s mostly between OK and pretty good. Related to that, I am ashamed to do this without much purpose.
I am afraid to have a conversation about this with my mother. Oh, hi again, shame. Although she’d be probably one of the last people to find out.
Full time employment takes a lot of time, but it also offers structure. There is safety in structure. There are so many decisions I don’t have to make, so many decisions I don’t have to doubt. Get up some time between 6 and 6.30. Get ready to leave by 7.40 the latest. The rest of it.
I live alone, and I am an introvert; some days work is where I have any meaningful conversations. (Conversation regarding defining analysis variables, resolving data issues, or improving processes are totally meaningful!) For what it’s worth, and with whatever little skill I had, I built relationships at work. I am sad to break them. Sad for me, and sad to abandon the people many of whom value me for what I think I’m worth. This heartbreak is underrecognized, but it’s a loss to grieve nevertheless.
One of the reasons I decided to quit my job is that two key relationships there didn’t work. I also felt now was a good time to take a break, and do what I don’t normally have enough free time for – all at once. With those broken relationships though… in the end I felt I was poisoning myself and those around me by partaking. I brought that up with the people in question. I applied whatever little skills I had to resolve. The skills were not enough. Leaving feels like a right thing to do, but it also feels like a personal failure: can’t hold a job, can’t hold a partner… What’s wrong with me? Will I ever learn?
I am afraid to be lonely. I’ve often been lonely. I have friends now, not just at work, but our relationships are somewhat supported by a time structure. We do such and such activity together. We may socialize before or after that. What will happen when I uproot the structures? Will the connections dissipate?
When I travel, I tend to abandon the daily practice. Then I usually don’t come back to it for months and slowly get uprooted. The crazies get out of control. Not good. I will be traveling.
Traveling alone can be quite wonderful in many ways. It can also be lonely and, again, there are many small decisions to be made, so many small decisions to doubt. I will be traveling alone.
Having said all that…
The fears about money, health, and walking right back into employment are mostly irrational. Money and walking right back in are irrational, because they are. Health, because should something catastrophic happen, having a job and health insurance won’t help solve all the problems or even the main ones. It can happen any time. Come to think of it, these fears are quite amusing, being so apparent and easy to explore: where did that one come from? Really??
The same goes for the rest of the fears: isn’t that one interesting? And that… and that.
Identity… This one is less amusing, but also gloriously apparent and easy, if not fun, to explore. Note to self: read that book Bob recommended; it’s probably about that… After I read all the books about yoga assigned in all the training I am taking.
Which reminds me.
Loneliness is not exactly an issue for now. I have a face-to-face yoga immersion happening for 3-21 days every month between now and July. There will be people there. Regular yoga, tango, and toastmasters are not going away either.
As for uprooting, I can maintain daily morning practice. It offers clarity, grounding, and structure. Keeps the crazies down. If nothing else, establishing that could be a good goal and purpose for the next few months. Can I make that non-negotiable, something I don’t have to decide upon, don’t have to doubt? Sure.
It kind of came down to yoga, didn’t it?
The feature artwork is “Tongue Tied” by Julianna Swaney. There’s more beauty on her website.
6 thoughts on “A List of Irrational Fears”
In the past, you’ve made hard decisions. Whenever that happened, I thought that you were impossibly tough on yourself. You never chose the easy way, but your choices turned out to be good ones.
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Thank you, Rick! You have always been such a wonderful and supportive friend!
Beautifully put, and very sober and brave.
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Thank you! ❤